Many people all over the world have human papillomavirus and don’t understand what it is or what it can cause. You should understand that this virus can be extremely dangerous and it is essential to know about it. In this article, we will tell you everything you should know about human papillomavirus.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can be transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse and even through skin-to-skin contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
Additionally, the CDC estimates that 79 million Americans have human papillomavirus. Most of these people are in their late teens or early 20s. The main problem is that many people that are infected with HPV don’t even know about it. As a result, they can easily pass it to their sexual partners.
There are more than 100 strains of human papillomavirus. Most of them are harmless (low-risk strains) but there are few types of HPV (high-risk strains) that can cause symptoms and even lead to cancer. High-risk HPV strains include 16th and 18th strains which cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers. Other high-risk strains of human papillomavirus include 31, 33, 45, 52, 58, and a few others. You should also know that a person can be infected with more than one HPV type.
In many cases, human papillomavirus doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. That’s why many people never know they were infected with this virus. High-risk strains can cause cancer and the symptoms will vary depending on the type of cancer.
Low-risk strains of HPV can cause warts on the body, especially on the genitals. Genital warts can get irritated during sex and this may lead to pain and discomfort. Other wars can also cause discomfort as well as aesthetic issues.
As mentioned above, some strains of human papillomavirus can lead to certain types of cancer. For example, in men, it can lead to abnormal changes in cells of the penis, anus, and throat. In women, HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, anus, and throat.
It is important to know that HPV is deemed the most common cause of cervical cancer. This type of cancer occurs when the cervical cells start to change. It usually doesn’t cause any symptoms in the initial stages. Cryosurgery, LEEP procedure, surgery, and other treatment options can help remove cancerous cells from the cervix.
HPV in women can be diagnosed with the help of a Pap test, also called Pap smear. It can show abnormal cells of the cervix that can be a sign of cancer. It is important to get tested every three years or even more frequently if you are a sexually active person.
Abnormal cells of the cervix can also be examined with the help of a colposcope. Your gynecologist will use this tool to have a close-up look at your cervix. This procedure is called a colposcopy. Unfortunately, there are no tests for HPV in men.
It is essential to know that there is no treatment for HPV. Indeed, you can treat genital warts or cancer but any antiviral medications don’t treat the virus itself. However, HPV can eliminate itself and that’s why you can choose watchful waiting as a treatment option.
Fortunately, you can prevent the infection with human papillomavirus with the help of a vaccine. Vaccination should be performed before the first sexual intercourse until the age of 26. After this age, the vaccine can be ineffective.